Volunteering at Ecole Shalom: The First Day

The first two members of a volunteer team have landed at their destination in Haiti. They expect many problems at the school, but have many ideas as well. It will be exciting to see what works out!

The first problem seems to be camera related. The cell phone camera does not seem to have adequate resolution to be useful.

In spite of this, spirits are high. It seems USAID visited the school today to discuss microloans for farmers. They viewed (Volunteer) Nick’s electronic map lesson where you guess the names of the continents.

Unfortunately, they lose power many times per day, for brief periods. There is a small generator and small set of batteries/inverter which help when the electrical grid is off.

So far they have 10 laptops they can use. There was no trouble with customs. Today five teachers went home with laptops. Five other XO laptops are charging. Later they will find out how many laptops can really be charged at the same time!

There is a quite magical circle of knitting lessons, English lessons etc almost every afternoon. The bubbling neighborhood excitement around this community school is extremely captivating, with schoolyard conversations around the soccer field as folks finally trickle home later in the day.

Very soon the team needs to prepare lessons with the teachers. Today they asked the teachers to each come up with one challenging question, as their 1st assignment. They returned early afternoon with these 5 questions:
1. How is Microsoft Office related to the software on the XO laptops?(Answer: they will demo AbiWord and SocialCalc later.)
2. Can Nick provide more wires so each teacher can run kid-created challenges using resistors weaved through posters or sewn thru tapestries, all connected to the XO’s Memorize Activity?(Answer: yes!)
3. How can Nick prepare a lesson on “fig bananes” – which is a local fruit? (The answer: The team will assist teachers Googling a whole week’s topic on Haitian Fruit, building teacher-ready collections of National Geographic-style materials on that week’s topic. Later teachers will learn how to Google-collage together such lesson plan/materials alone.)
4. Historical maps of Haiti: can Nick or Adam help the teachers gather these for a lesson MapPack? (YES, if the teacher decides what century of Haiti’s history and what region she’s teaching.)
5. What computer activities are recommended for the youngest children? Today we showed them Sugar’s Maze Activity for starters, which we played 3 at a time!

They have asked the 5 teachers to return tomorrow morning with 5 more difficult questions. Best news: all teachers remain very enthusiastic, even those who clearly lack basic computer skills!!

On Sunday there will be a big event, a parent meeting which teachers will also attend. There are ~60 kids so far, so the team is excited to meet 10-30 parents, alongside many other Ecole Shalom volunteers from Toronto, South Africa, Australia and the USA.

The school is wonderfully intimate with its maze of small rooms, and yet with great/connected open space. There is discussion about a possible locked area once more computers arrive.

The team is thriving on meeting the challenges as they arise — and hoping to send along visuals soon — even if so many great encounters already were not recorded!

By the way, skipping ropes and soccer balls are hot items! Already more are needed!


About fromourisland

Gardener, knitter, wife, mother of 2, grandmother, and lots more.
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One Response to Volunteering at Ecole Shalom: The First Day

  1. kevix says:

    that is sugar-ized Gnumeric (spreadsheet).
    there are many Gcompris activities — some are simpler than other. so can’t give a recommendataion as to which are for younger students.

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